What makes President Obama’s executive passivity so interesting is that it seems to be a symptom not of policy uncertainty, but of personal narcissism. The president is free to delegate the tasks of the president because he’s already done the important job of simply showing up. It’s the same impulse that leads him to make all sorts of claims about the singularity of his tenure. For instance, at an August 15 town hall event in Minnesota, he boasted that after his administration took control of General Motors and Chrysler, the two companies posted profits for the “first time in decades,” even though both companies were profitable as recently as 2004…

Bill Clinton’s vanity was that he wished he could have been at the center of a world historical event. Barack Obama’s vanity is that he believes he is a world historical event. And the greatness of his being dwarfs any necessity to establish greatness through action. That’s why, despite his passivity as president, we’re likely to see a much more vigorous Obama in the coming months as he switches from governing to campaigning. However ambivalent he may be about leading the country, arguing for the indispensability of Barack Obama is the one project that has always commanded his full attention.